New Year, Same Old Crazy: How HOA Meetings Draw Out the Battiest in the Building

Crazy People Are Coming

It’s been awhile since we’ve had a good HOA schadenfreude moment. Sensing your need for a fix (and a reader with a crazy HOA board meeting me for drinks), well, here we are.

All board meetings start with the same tedium of roll calls, calling for votes on topics residents don’t understand (because residents are not privy to the info) and other recurring agenda items before digressing into inanity. This meeting, first after elections, had a “new” board. Each member’s committee roles were announced and just one, the hard-working but powerless Social Committee was looking for committee volunteers. The rest were all presumably filled with cronies and besties connected to the board. (Danger Will Robinson, Danger!)

This meeting also featured the board’s humble-brag about how diligently the building manager worked to solve a mysterious gas leak reported by a resident in December. Left out of the self-congratulatory narrative was the fact that this reader had been fobbed off when making the same complaint months earlier. (The victors write the history.)

Then there’s question time where residents can ask … anything. Protecting themselves from enlightenment, the more serious and informative the topic, the less time is allowed (can’t miss Vanna – is there a sick irony about old folks fascination with Wheel of Fortune; a game based on Hangman?).

Anyway, a resident who could be described as gruff brought up the fact that months ago he and another resident brought maintenance issues to the board and management’s attention and thus far nothing had been done. The majority of the work was unsightly but minor and could have been done by on-site staff.

You could almost hear the ding-ding-ding of the fight bell as the previous board president jumped up (she’s apparently big on jumping up) to say that the board (that she’s no longer a member of) was only interested in “life-threatening” repairs. This would be the same former president whose raison d’être just over a year ago was a (life-threatening?) $650K hallway renovation. (When seeking applause for the outcome of her hallway renovation, applause was reportedly tepid at best)

As part of her rant she said that one owner was out of compliance for fire suppression. How a woman not on the board has this information about a resident is a mystery. After the meeting it was confirmed that no one in authority knew what the heck she was gabbling on about. She’s good that way … just making stuff up to suit her need du jour.

Another resident made mention that one of the doors in the parking lot doesn’t close properly and wanted to know what could be done. A propped open door is a safety concern. This concern is brought up every winter when the air pressure in the elevator vestibule is pushing air out which keeps the door from closing properly.

Original louvers designed to equalize air pressure

Original louvers designed to equalize air pressure

 

Boarded-up louvers create vacuum that impedes door closure

Boarded-up louvers create vacuum that impedes door closure

As you can see from these pictures, as originally architected, the vestibule is supposed to be properly ventilated by a set of louvered transoms. At some point in the past, the transoms were boarded up creating the problem. The solution is simple. Put a few holes in the plywood and let the air pressure normalize. This simple 5-minute solution has been proposed and (obviously) ignored year after year.

The answer to this meeting’s attendees? Use video cameras to identify the residents who don’t physically close the door each time. And what would they do with those identities? Fine them? Public shaming? Force them into the dunk tank at the next carnival? The building manager apparently said that fixing the air pressure might make the doors too heavy to open with arms laden with packages. This missed the fact that on the way from the garage (when arms would be full) the door is a “push” not a “pull.”

Commiserating with my friend, I can say this one 40-minute meeting certainly had more than its share of crazy. Other HOA-ers, how does this compare to your meetings? Share in the comments or with me privately.

 

Remember: Do you have an HOA story to tell? A little high-rise history? Realtors, want to feature a listing in need of renovation or one that’s complete with flying colors? How about hosting a Candy’s Dirt Staff Meeting? Shoot Jon an email. Marriage proposals accepted (they’re legal)! sharewithjon@candysdirt.com

 

 

7 Comment

  • They bring out the worst and sometimes least educated. My last HOA meeting was a vote on raising the dues or creating a special assessment for a huge roof repair on the complex. Round and round we went with another resident who wanted the special assessment (gasp!) while I tried to explain why it was better to raise the dues and turns out – they were a real estate agent! I ended up drinking a bottle of wine after that meeting.

    • Realtors love short-term fixes. It’s easier to sell if there’s an endpoint for a special assessment (that a smart buyer ALWAYS makes the seller pay) versus more expensive dues forever.

  • There is always at least one person who is irrational at HOA meetings. Sometimes it is board members. If you don’t have a strong President who will call time on speakers and move things along, then the meetings become crazy as per your example. In my non-HOA complex, one person has us in a lock down with his/her irrationality and he/she is so mad at everyone he/she was going to cut off the electricity to the complex without telling us (she got caught when another owner asked about it). I guess no one is paying their voluntary dues — but there is no transparency so this is a guess. Most people don’t need the stress of dealing with the irrational person or people on the board and so “check out.” It is always something in these communities and my question is what happened to the golden rule and thinking for what is best for the collective not just oneself.

  • Maybe I just live in an exceptionally well run building but this stuff seems completely foreign to me. I mean sure we got into knock out drag out fights over the two major remodels we have done but they were mostly over aesthetics, the budget pretty easily passed.

    In general thing run really smoothly, that door situation would have been fixed in Dallas. Actually we had a similar situation with our door coming from the basement to the parking garage not closing properly after we added a more powerful air handling unit (It was an automatic door though), within a few weeks of deciding it couldn’t be properly fixed it was replaced with an automatic sliding door which frankly works tons better anyways since there is no door to get in the way when moving carts in or out.

    • Err, didn’t type Dallas, auto-correct. I mean weeks without debate if anything people would have raised a fuss about a piece of plywood being tacked on above the door in such a haphazard looking fashion, a dead light bulb or a scratch on the elevator door trim gets fixed in less than 24 hours.

      • Consider yourself luckier than my reader. You’d be surprised how often HOAs are poorly managed and how long they stay in that rut.